There is no McDonald’s in Ethiopia. Perhaps if there was, 3000000 people would not die this year from malnutrition. In a world where poverty usually means starvation, the United States is one of the lucky countries whose poor suffer from obesity. This happy fact is partly due to chain restaurants like McDonald’s that are so efficient at what they do they are able to offer the equivalent of a days worth of calories for less than $5. This is a blessing for families who don’t have the option to spend any more than that to feed each of its members. In NYC however, regulators are working to make sure that a cheap meal is a thing of the past.
If regulators get their way, restaurants with a certain number of outlets in the city will be forced to display the caloric values of each meal, in an attempt to encourage people to make “healthier” choices. There’s nothing wrong with wanting people to be aware of their health, but there’s everything wrong in trying to force people to be healthy and force businesses to force people to be healthy. It certainly shouldn’t be up to the government to decide whether being overweight or starving is the better option.
But that is essentially what the NYC government is trying to do. Chain restaurants achieved their prodigious levels of efficiency by doing things their way and cutting the fat wherever possible. Changing all their signs may not be a big enough expense to be reflected in the cost of a happy meal, but who says it will stop there? Forced elimination of trans-fats, calories displayed on every burger wrapper, posters of obese children on the walls? Whose restaurant is it anyway? If we let the government control our food sources, judging by the way it handles its own finances, we’ll have to change the dollar menu to the $100 dollar menu. This will only guarantee that people have less money to spend on the more expensive fruits and vegetables that are supposed to be so good for us.
We don’t know why people choose to eat food they know is bad for them, but until the government starts giving away free food for all, it is and ought to be our choice.